Charles Barkley wants America to talk about race

Charles Barkley's new series

Charles Barkley had a legendary career in the NBA for 16 seasons and has since become a popular and outspoken analyst on TNT's "Inside the NBA." He now has a new documentary series that takes a human look at race relations in America called "American Race."

Barkley joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss how his new series aims to spark conversations about race, and some of the people he met along the way.

For the series, Barkley spoke with people ranging from alt-right leader Richard Spencer to civil rights attorney Gerald Griggs and a mother who lost her son to police violence.

A scene from Charles Barkley's TNT documentary series "American Race." Nancy Newberry

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life meeting with these families, obviously Richard Spencer. Meeting with mothers who — families whose kids have been killed by the police. Meeting with Muslim people and undocumented immigrants. They were very difficult conversations but they needed to be had," Barkley said.

For Barkley, the conversations need to happen before there is a controversy that forces the issue.

"That's the biggest problem. We never talk about race until something bad happens and then everybody's mad," Barkley said.

One of the episodes takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, where Barkley took some heat for defending the police.

"First of all, I've always defended the police, but that doesn't mean I think they're always right," he said.

American Race: Baltimore Town Hall [CLIP] | TNT by TNT on YouTube

Barkley said he wants people to watch his show and consider the viewpoints of everyone involved, but most importantly, he wants the people he is speaking with to have an opportunity to be heard in a way they might not have before.

"We talk about police brutality but we don't ever see the victim's face. We talk about undocumented immigrants but we don't really know any of them," Barkley said.   

Asked about a recent incident in which Baltimore Orioles star Adam Jones said fans at Fenway Park hurled peanuts and racial slurs at him, Barkley said, "I was more disappointed in the people around the people saying the racist stuff because, just out of human decency, the people around should have policed that situation."

"American Race" premieres Thursday, May 11 on TNT and on Monday, May 8 on